When summer arrives, I put my blinders on. I stop reading bulletin boards and the newspaper event listings. My year-round Vineyard brain can’t take in that many options, and my year-round Vineyard income can’t afford them anyway.
Last night, however, I drove myself to Oak Bluffs for “Fish Out of Water: The Moth on Martha’s Vineyard” at the Tabernacle. The Moth is a public radio show that touts itself as “True Stories Told Live.”
When it came to Martha’s Vineyard last summer, I’d never heard of it. Someone asked me if I was going to their storytelling workshop. Yeah, right: even if I’d heard of it and had any interest in taking it, the workshop cost something like $400.
Later I heard that the Moth people were disappointed that so few Vineyard people had taken part. They expected “Vineyard people” to take part in something that cost a bundle and happened in the middle of summer? I wrote them off as a bunch of clueless New Yawkers.
One of the storytellers, however, at last year’s public performance was Cynthia Riggs. Cynthia’s island bona fides are beyond impeccable, and her story — about her reunion with and eventual marriage to a long-ago co-worker she hadn’t seen in more than 60 years — has become a big Moth hit. (For background see my blog post about Cynthia’s February bridal shower.) Thanks to Cynthia, the New Yawkers now have a clue. As a result, there were three Vineyard residents on last night’s program, and one of them was my friend and writers’ group buddy Shirley Mayhew. As her surname should suggest, her island bona fides are also impeccable. She generously put me on her guest list.
Truth to tell, if she hadn’t, I would have scrounged 40 bucks for a ticket even if it meant going without beer for the next month, but I’m glad I didn’t have to.
As I approached the Tabernacle, it became crystal clear that for hundreds upon hundreds of people, coming up with $40 was so not a problem. It looked like a mother ship from New Yawk had landed in the middle of the Campground. The Tabernacle was close to sold out. What does “sold out” mean at the Tabernacle? I’ve heard 2,000 mentioned as a capacity crowd. How many had bought tickets and how many were comped in? No idea, but as of a few days ago 1,200 tickets had been sold, and for sure that number can only have gone up.
In addition to my friend Shirley, the storytellers on the program included Vineyard Gazette managing editor Bill Eville and Captain Buddy Vanderhoop, a Wampanoag from Aquinnah who runs a fishing charter and whose clients have amassed an enviable record in the Vineyard’s fall Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby. You know what? I’m not saying this just because I live here, but the three “locals” left the other two storytellers, both professional New Yawkers with media credits out the wazoo, in the dust.
I was so proud of them. The audience was hugely enthusiastic and supportive of everybody, but I really, really hope that the summer visitors among them realize that they heard some real Vineyard stories last night.